Interview with René Versluis

Photo: Sanne Donders
 

Interview with René Versluis, NPS Expert

 

KPN is a leading telecommunications and IT provider and market leader here in the Netherlands. As well as supporting several million consumers, KPN also supports corporate customers in the areas of infrastructure, workplace management, the cloud, security, data networks and data centres.

Our CEO John O’Connor recently caught up with René Versluis, who has been responsible for running the Net Promoter Score (NPS) programme at KPN’s corporate division for several years. René is a genuine expert in running a customer feedback programme in a large corporate business to business (B2B) environment.

I hope you enjoy this short interview with René Versluis.

Pim Braat
Deep-Insight Regional Manager, Benelux

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René Versluis and NPS

John: René can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your involvement with Net Promotor Scores (NPS)?
René: Sure, John. I have worked with KPN for more than 15 years and I have had a series of commercial and sales roles during that time. In recent years, I have been a programme director for some of KPN’s strategic projects including responsibility for setting up and running its Net Promoter Score (NPS) programme for corporate clients. The trigger for KPN creating that role and asking me to take ownership was the fact that KPN values its corporate clients and is interested in their feedback in the fast developing world.
 

The Importance of Good Governance and Follow-Up

John: What were the first things you did when you took on this new role?
René: Leadership is important so my very first step was to create an NPS board which included many of the senior leaders in the company. We met initially every single week. This was an important step in setting the right governance for the programme.
John: Would you say that the NPS programme was successful?
René: Yes, I would say we had a lot of success with the NPS programme. We got feedback from customers but more important, we took action. If a client score needed to be improved, we implemented a Client Improvement Plan. We also insisted on closed loop feedback with each client. That means that within four weeks of a survey taking place, the account director created this Client Improvement Plan and discussed, agreed and shared that plan with the client.
 

Lessons Learned

John: What lessons did you learn from running the programme? Or to put the question a different way, what advice would you give to yourself if you were to start all over again?
René: I don’t think I would have changed anything fundamentally. I have mentioned the importance of leadership. The other thing that is important is setting realistic targets. You can’t change the culture of an organisation if you set targets that are not achievable.
John: How did the NPS Board change the culture in the organisation to make it more customer-centric?
René: One of the techniques that we used when people came to us with a proposition was to ask them: “What is the effect of that on the NPS score?” If you keep asking that question, eventually people recognise that any proposal or any investment needs to be made with the customer in mind. If it’s not and people can’t articulate a clear benefit for the customer, then it’s a wasted investment. I would also say that you need to work very closely with key clients – you can’t assume that you have the right answer. You must make sure the client thinks it’s the right answer.
 

The Future

John: You’ve recently left KPN after more than 15 years. What do you plan to do now?
René: I’m not ready to retire just yet! I think I have learned enough from my time at KPN to help other companies thinking about embarking on their customer experience of NPS programmes. Net Promoter is a great tool but it needs to be applied correctly in B2B environments.
John: The very best of luck, René, and thanks again for sharing those insights with us.
 

Deep-Insight takes to the High Seas

NEW CLIENTS ANNOUNCEMENT

We are delighted to announce two new clients at Deep-Insight. Both have a strong maritime feel.

Survitec


Survitec is a global leader in survival and safety solutions to the marine, defence, aviation and offshore markets.  It has over 3,000 employees worldwide, covering 8 manufacturing facilities, 15 offshore support centres and over 70 owned service stations. Survitec also has a network of over 500 third party service stations and distributors.

Across its 160-year history, Survitec Group has remained at the forefront of innovation, design and application engineering. It is the trusted name when it comes to critical safety and survival solutions. The new management team has made a commitment to focus the company around its customers.

In a recent interview for SAFETY4SEA, Survitec’s newly-appointed Managing Director for its Marine Division, Baba Devani explains how the world’s leading safety and survival partner is restructuring to become more customer-centric.

Port of Newcastle


Port of Newcastle is the largest port on the East Coast of Australia. As a global trade gateway for more than 220 years, the Port of Newcastle delivers safe, sustainable and efficient logistics solutions for its customers. It is also the largest coal exporting port in the world.

Port of Newcastle’s customers include coal producers in the Hunter Valley, non-coal traders including fuels, alumina, wheat, mineral concentrates and fertiliser manufacturers, as well as some of the world’s largest shipping lines.

The Port of Newcastle is at an early stage of development of a customer-centricity programme. Deep-Insight is delighted to be helping CEO Craig Carmody and his management team on that journey.

Deep-Insight seen as ‘Unique’ in 2019 CRQ assessment

Our 2019 Customer Relationship Quality Results

A big Thank You to all of our clients and channel partners who completed our CRQ assessment this year! It provided us with a wealth of feedback. We are humbled that you have given us such positive scores and we are thrilled with both the overall results and the detailed responses that we received.

In summary: we had an overall completion rate of 49%, a CRQ score of 6.0 and a Net Promoter score of +53%. This is the strongest set of scores that we have ever received.
CRQ and NPS CRQ assessment

Regaining our Unique Status

Our scores this year mean that we are now back into ‘Unique’ territory, which we just missed out on last year. Uniqueness requires a combination of a winning ‘Solution’ and a great ‘Experience’. Last year, our ‘Solution’ scores had slipped and over the past 12 months we have been working hard to regain this ‘Unique’ status. It’s very gratifying to see all of our hard work paying off.

Unique Solution and Unique Experience CRQ assessment

Deep-Dive: New and Improved

We have reflected a bit on last year’s journey for Deep-Insight and why we regained our Unique status. As a result of your feedback last year, we took your comments on board and put together a plan to upgrade our Deep-Dive platform. As a result, we have recently rolled out Deep-Dive v1.1 which is faster, has more features and allows our clients to access individual account reports at a click of a button. The work that the development team put into Deep-Dive has paid off as we have seen our ‘Solution’ scores increase from 4.9 to 5.7 this year and we have already received some very positive feedback regarding our upgraded Deep-Dive platform.

Our Plans for 2019?

Even though we received an amazing set of scores this year and we are thrilled with the results, that does not mean we will take a break. We have put our heads together and came up with the following action points for the upcoming months.

No. 1 – Share Results with All Clients – and Create Joint Action PLans

We tell our clients to share their results with their customers as this is a very effective way of building strong relationships. In the past we have sometimes been guilty of not taking our own advice but this year we plan on doing exactly that with all of our clients. Expect us to reach out to you in the very near future so that we can review your feedback together and see how Deep-Insight can be more effective this year at helping you achieve your 2019 objectives.

No. 2 – More Support with Account Management 

This year we asked you to what you use our services for. The answer? You use Deep-Insight and primarily as an Account Management/ Customer Retention tool, followed closely by Customer Experience feedback.

Customer Portfolio CRQ assessment
The message for us at Deep-Insight is that we need to spend more time with our clients at the start of any assessment to understand how you segment your client base, how you allocate account managers and service teams to those accounts, and how we can help you get more account-based insights from using the Deep-Dive platform. We also need to be more supportive in helping you use the results to manage those accounts more effectively. This is one area we would specifically like to explore with each of you in the coming weeks.

No. 3 – Aim for a Higher Response Rate in 2020

This is more of an internal action for us at Deep-Insight. A 49% response rate is not bad but we know that some of you set targets of 60% or higher, and you achieve them. We will be aiming for a 60% completion rate in 2020. We always advise our clients to work with their account teams to achieve the highest response rate possible, so for next year we will definitely put a stronger focus on this for ourselves as well.
Thank you again for your time and input into this year’s customer assessment. We will be in touch shortly.

John O’Connor

Satisfaction or ‘Statisfaction’?

One of my esteemed colleagues recently sent a draft document to me that had a typo – satisfaction had been spelt with an extra ‘t’, making up a new word ‘statisfaction’.

That got me thinking!

I have been involved in numerous movements and initiatives to drive customer-focused business improvement for over 25 years – from Total Quality & Customer Satisfaction (CSat) through to Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ).

One thing that I have learned working with hundreds of companies across the world is that:

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE SCORE – IT’S ABOUT THE CUSTOMERS

Businesses like things quantified (there’s a perception that companies are run by accountants nowadays?), and on the whole I go along with the “what gets measured gets managed” mantra (see below), so I fully endorse customer experience and internal capability measurement.

I also like statistics! I’m intrigued by the fact that (as happened recently in a client) the average score of the Net Promoter question can go up but the NPS itself goes down! I love exploring how ‘the same’ internal capability score can be made up of completely different profiles of strength, weakness, consistency and impact across the organisation.

The first trouble with ‘the numbers’ (scores, averages, top-box, etc.) is that they DE-HUMANISE their source – our customers and how we manage their experience and value.

Yes, verbatims that are often included in the appendices of research reports and are summarised into frequency graphs of positive & negative sentiment (quantification again!), but I really wonder how many executives actually read every customer comment?

My point here is that customers are on a JOURNEY, and have a STORY to tell, but organisationally we’re only interested in a number.

My second problem with ‘the numbers’ is that hitting the score target can easily become the objective in itself rather than improving organisational capabilities. I have seen this lead to many counter-cultural, and indeed downright destructive, behaviours:

-Deselection of unhappy or difficult customers from surveys

-Writing new strategies instead of implementing the one you’ve got

-NPS begging – “please give me a 9 or 10 or I’ll get fired”

-Only ever addressing ‘quick wins’ – never the underlying systemic issues

-Blaming sample sizes and methodologies as an excuse for inactivity

-Blatant attempts to fix the scores (e.g. fabricated questionnaire completions, ‘evidence’ of capability that is in fact just a Powerpoint slide)

-Corporate tolerance of low-scorers – many companies seem content with the fact that large proportions of their customers hate them!

-Putting metrics into performance scorecards but with such a low weighting (vs. sales) that nobody really cares

-Improving “the process” instead of “the journey”

-No follow-up at a personal level because of research anonymity; or inconsistent follow-up if anonymity is waived – often only of low scorers treated as complainants – what about thanking those who compliment and asking for referrals from advocates?

I could go on, but I hope the point is made – beware of “what gets measured gets managed” becoming:

“WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS MANIPULATED”

So instead of targeting statistical scores, seek to find ways of improving your systemic capabilities to cost-effectively manage your customer experience – and then listen to what they’re saying to you about how satisfying it is.

By the way, your scores will improve too!

 

Peter Lavers is Deep-Insight’s UK MD. If you’d like to find out more about how NPS overcomes these issues, please contact Peter here.